Let’s all just come out and admit it. Every last one of us secretly pines for our Hogwarts letter. It’s not even necessarily that we all want to do magic (though, who doesn’t want to do magic?) it’s more that there’s a piece of each of us that wants to be special, you know? Ordinary life is all fine and dandy, but wouldn’t it be great to be plucked from obscurity and told that you are exceptional? Heck, I wrote my entire college entrance essay based on the fact that while I lacked a sob story or excessive brilliance, I was a darn good bet to graduate on time and with good grades. I may not have been a superstar, but I was plenty reliable. And I totally sold it. We had to write it as an English assignment and my teacher gave me extra credit. (I also got into college, but I probably would have done that with any old essay because I didn’t go to a fancy pants school, but I’m going to pretend the essay had everything to do with it.)
Enter Patrick Ness’s latest offering The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Our protagonist is Mikey. He’s an ordinary kid struggling with real life problems. He just wants to graduate high school, hook up with his crush, and go to prom. He’s never going to be the one chosen to defeat soul eating ghosts, vampires, or blue lights of doom. All of which happen from time to time. Because of course. It’s like every YA apocalypse novel is swirling around Mikey’s hometown and he’s just trying not to get caught in the crossfire. Heck, even his best friend holds a bizarre sway over all things feline!
It sounds like a recipe for irreverent fun, and it is, but it goes much deeper than that. Patrick Ness manages to somehow blend campy cliches in with real issues that teenagers face. Sexuality, dating, family dynamics, and growing up are all rendered with a heart wrenching truthfulness. I seriously want to give Patrick Ness the biggest hug for his compassionate portrayal of mental illness. No, nobody is imagining the soul eating ghosts. Those are real. So is OCD. And Anorexia. And Depression. And probably aliens, but I can’t back that up.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here is the type of novel teenagers need to be reading. This is YA at its very best. I want to shove it into the hands of unsuspecting adolescents. This one hit me hard in the feels, y’all. Read it. READ IT!
Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of you feel like it’s ridiculous to expect 17 year old kids to write about turning points in their lives in order to get into college?
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